If you like cars and like to draw, you may have wanted to be a car designer at some point in your life. Car designers have a lot to do with how people feel about cars. Their work can make or break a brand, and sometimes they create an icon. Find out how to design cars.
Most of the time, these car designers don’t get the attention they deserve. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous car designers who changed the way we think about cars today:
1) Filippo Perini
Italy is a country
He had an effect on brands like Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, and Italdesign.
Huracan, Aventador, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione concept, and the 159 sedan are all popular designs.
Filippo Perini is proof that with passion and hard work, you can make your childhood dreams come true. When he saw a Lamborghini Miura when he was only 13, he was hooked on designing cars.
He then started drawing pictures of cars and sent some of them to an Italian magazine. They liked his work, so they printed his designs and told him to keep going in this direction. And he hasn’t stopped since.
He worked at Lamborghini as a chief head designer from 2003 to 2016. Now, he has moved to Italdesign Giugiaro design house to lead it.
2) Giorgetto Giugiaro
Italy is a country
Alfa Romeo, BMW, VW, Lotus, Maserati, DeLorean, Mazda, and many other motorcycle, watch, gun, sunglasses, camera, plane, and boat companies were influenced by him.
Popular designs: BMW M1, Lotus Espirit, Maserati Bora, Delorean DMC-12, Alfa Romeo 2000
I would say Giorgetto Giugiaro is the most well-known car designer. Some people even say that he was the best designer of the 20th century.
His grandfather painted church frescoes, and both his father and grandfather made decorative religious art and oil paintings.
It made sense for him to be interested in art. At the age of 14, he went to a design school and kept going with his education. When the head engineer of Fiat saw one of Giugiaro’s drawings, he hired him right away for the Fiat Special Vehicles Styling Center.
At Fiat, none of the things he came up with were made. Giugiaro then went to see Mr. Nuccio Bertone, who gave him a test design to work on. And his first car, the Alfa Romeo 2000, was based on that test design.
He worked for a few companies before starting Italdesign Giugiaro (Yes, the same design house Fillipo Perini joined). Giorgetto Giugiaro is a one-of-a-kind car designer who has had an effect on motorcycles, watches, planes, guns, boats, cameras, and sunglasses.
3) Batista Pininfarina
Italy is a country
Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Ford, and Ferrari were all influenced by it.
Popular Designs: 1947 Cisitalia 202 coupe
“Pininfarina”. This name must sound familiar to you because Mahindra & Mahindra just bought this very well-known design house. This design house was started by Batista Pininfarina.
Batista started working at the auto body shop run by his older brother when he was only 12 years old. Mahindra will make an electric hypercar under the brand Pininfarina.
After five years of working there, Batista was given the chance to submit his idea for the new Fiat Zero. Giovanni Agnelli, the founder of Fiat, asked Batista if he liked his design or Fiat’s when they were deciding which one to use. Batista proudly replied, “I like this one better because I made it.” This answer led to him getting his first design job.
4) Marcello Gandini
Italy is a country
Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Buggati, Maserati, Ferrari, Lancia, Renault, FIAT, Cizeta, and Citroen are some of the brands that were affected.
Popular Designs: Miura, Countach, Diablo, Bugatti EB110, Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo prototype, Lancia Stratos, Citroën BX, Renault Supercinq
In 1963, Marcello Gandini approached Gruppo Bertone design company for a job. Marcello Gandini was finally hired by the Bertone design house in 1965, which gave him the chance to show off his skills after two years. That chance came about because Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was in charge of design at Bertone at the time (he’s mentioned in the second spot), left to work at Ghia. Gadini accepted the job, and he worked for Bertone until 1980.
Gandini deserves credit for being the first person to put a scissor door on a sports car. He made the first prototype of this type of door for the 1968 Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo. Gandini should also be known as the man who made the famous Lamborghini Miura and Countach. Here you can read his Interview
5) Ian Callum
Scotland is a country.
Ford, Aston Martin, Nissan, and Jaguar are all brands that were affected.
Nissan R390, Aston Martin DB7, Aston Martin Vanquish, Jaguar XK, Jaguar XF, XJ, F-Type, and Jaguar XE are some of the most well-known designs.
Ian Callum was born in Scotland, and he has always wanted to make cars. He sent his design to Jaguar when he was 14 in hopes of getting a job.
He worked hard to become a car designer and got a degree in transportation design from Aberdeen College, an industrial design degree from Glasgow School of Art, and a master’s degree in vehicle design from the Royal College of Art in London.
Soon after, in 1979, he got a job at Ford. He had all of these degrees by then. At first, he made things like steering wheels for cars. Then he gave his ideas for cars like the Ford Fiesta and Mondeo, which are made for a large number of people. When he was hired as the Design Manager at Ghia Design Studio in Turin, he made a smooth move into car design.
Ian left Ford Group in 1990 and went to work for TWR Design house, where he helped design the famous Aston Martin DB7. He also made the design for the Aston Martin Vanquish and worked with Volvo, Mazda, and HSV. He made the Nissan R390 GT-1 race car in 1998.
After TWR, he went to work for Jaguar in 1999. He is still there, designing cars like the i-Pace and F-Pace that look like they came from the future.
6) Peter Stevens
Ford, Jaguar, McLaren, BMW, Mahindra, and Toyota are all brands that were affected.
Popular Designs: McLaren F1, Lotus Elan
Peter Steven is the most well-known car designer in the UK. He now works as a lecturer at a design school and as a consultant for different brands. Peter also went to school to learn how to design cars. He started at the Central St Martin School of Art and then moved on to the Royal College of Art. His career began in 1970 when he worked for Ford.
In the 1980s, he was the head designer at Lotus, where he changed the look of the Esprit and made the Lotus Elan. He was also in charge of making the Jaguar XJR-15. But the legendary McLaren F1 supercar, which came out in 1993, is without a doubt his most well-known design.
He has helped make brands like BMW, Prodrive, Williams, and Toyota over the years. Since 2005, he has been Mahindra & Mahindra’s consultant director of design. His ideas had a big impact on the design of the Mahindra XUV500 SUV.
7) Chris Bangle
Opel, Fiat, and BMW were all affected.
Popular Designs: BMW 6-Series (E63), BMW Z4 (E85), 7-Series (E65), 5-Series (E60), X6
Chris Bangle is an American designer known for making designs that are controversial. Born in Ohio, Chris Bangle grew up in Wisconsin.
Bangle started his education in design at the art Centre college of design in California, where he got a bachelor of science degree. Then he went to Madison University in Wisconsin to get a Master of Science in industrial design.
Bangle’s career began in 1981 with Opel and went on until 1985. There, he made Opel Junior, his first car. Then, in 1985, he moved to FIAT to work on the Fiat Panda and the Fiat Coupe, which came out in 1993.
Chris moved to BMW in 1993, where he did some of his most talked-about work, including designing the 1, 3, 5, and 7-series sedans and the X3, X5, and X6 SUVs. Not to mention the Gina Concept and the popular BMW roadster Z4 E85.
Chris Bangle left BMW in 2009 to start Chris Bangle Associates, a design consulting company.
8) Shiro Nakamura
Japan is a country
Brands like Isuzu, Nissan, Infinity, and GM were affected.
Nissan’s 370Z, GTR, Leaf, and Cube are well-known designs.
Shiro Nakamura is one of Japan’s best car designers. He is known as “Fingers” because he works with his hands to make things. At the moment, he works for Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. as Vice President and Chief Creative Officer.
Shiro Nakamura went to the Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Japan, and got a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design. He also got a Bachelor of Science in transportation design from Pasadena, California, and did very well on the test.
Nissan’s Altima, 370Z, Cube, Leaf, Murano, and GT-R are all well-known cars that he made. He has worked on the Infiniti M, the Infiniti G, and the Infiniti FX.
9) Henrik Fisker
Brands such as BMW, Ford, Aston Martin, and Fisker were affected.
Popular Designs: BMW Z8, Aston Vantage V8, Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma
Henrik Fisker is a car designer from Denmark who became an entrepreneur and now lives in California. When Henrik was young, he saw the Maserati Bora and, like most car designers, he became interested in making cars.
He went to school and got a degree in transportation design from the Art Center College of Design in Switzerland in 1989.
In 1989, Henrik began his career as a designer at BMW. His first project was an electric concept car called the E1. At BMW, he made cars like the Z8 and the first X5, which came out in 1999.
Fisker left BMW in 2001 to become the head of design at Aston Martin. He got the Aston Martin DB9 ready for production and also made the design for the Aston Martin Vantage V8 from 2005. He made the Shelby GR-1 Concept car for Ford.
Then, in 2005, he became an entrepreneur and started Fisker Coachbuild. In 2007, he also helped Tesla come up with the first idea for the Model S electric sedan.
Henrik then started Fisker Automotive with Quantum Technologies and made the futuristic-looking Fisker Karma electric sports car.
10) Frank Stephenson
Brands like Mini, Fiat, Ferrari, Maserati, and McLaren were affected.
Popular Designs: Mini Cooper, Ferrari F430, Fiat 500, McLaren P1
Since he was a kid, Frank Stephenson was interested in motorcycles, and he also did motocross as a job. Because of this, he went to the Art Center of Design in California to study car design.
After he graduated in 1986, he started working at the Ford design studio in Cologne. There, he was responsible for the big rear wing and other unique parts of the Escort RS Cosworth racecar.
He then went to work for BMW, where he stayed for 11 years. The redesigned 2001 Mini Hatchback was the most talked-about thing he did there.
In 2002, Stephenson left BMW to become the Director of Ferrari-Maserati Concept Design and Development. He made the Maserati MC12 and the Ferrari F430 while he worked at Ferrari. There, he also forgot about Pininfarina’s work on the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Maserati Quattroporte, and GranTurismo.
In 2005, Fiat, the company that owns Ferrari, gave him the job of fixing up the Fiat brand. At Fiat, he made the Punto, Bravo, and the Fiat 500 ready for mass production.
Stephenson left Fiat in 2008 to become the Design Director at McLaren, where he oversaw the design of the McLaren P1, 650S, 570S, and P14 Concept, which became the 720S. Read his interview with Car and Driver.
The way a car looks from the outside is something that everyone can agree on. So, it’s not wrong to say that a lot more people judge the work of car designers. Some of the world’s best car designers came from Italy, but now designers come from all over the world. Tell us in the comments if you think we forgot to include your favourite car designer on this list.
What is the average salary of car designer?
Payscale says that the average salary for an automotive designer is $82,642. The pay ranges from $58k to $124k, depending on the job and the amount of experience.
How to become a car designer?
Start by getting a degree from a design school, doing an internship at an auto company, and learning how to use CAD tools.